Wednesday, October 31, 2007

High Self Esteem

I have written before about Seren's love of the word 'yes' in response to any question. She smiles when she says it. I can hear her sweet voice in my head. I asked her a series of questions a few weeks ago while she was bouncing on my lap and looking at me.

"Seren, are you very smart?"
"Seren, are you also very beautiful?"
"And Seren, are you also very loved?"

It is my hope as her mother that she'll always feel this way about herself. That she is smart, talented, beautiful and loved. Chances are, she won't always feel that way. I remember distinctly, in 6th grade, I was waiting for the bus stop in the morning. I was wearing white shorts and my neighbor, an older girl whom I looked up to, said to me, "Megan, your legs are just too skinny. They look like sticks coming out from those big white shorts."

Now she could have said worse words. But it stung. My parents, like many good parents, didn't criticize my body or my appearance. Sure, there was a little teasing if an item of clothing didn't match but until that morning on the bus stop, I had never received such direct criticism about something I couldn't change. That was probably one of the first times I realized that I didn't "look right". Magazines, friends, boys added to those self doubts. Running track and being weighed before races didn't help either. Add to that acne and braces! Before I knew it, I was a skinny teenager worried about 'making weight' even though making weight was really about being underweight.

So us women (and maybe men too) are fed a full diet of self criticism from an early age. And, hopefully, at some point, we stop listening to all of those negative voices. If we are lucky, we find a great life partner who reminds us all of those self doubts are ridiculous. Or, we start to hear the truth about our bodies for ourselves. So that when we look in the mirror, we like what we see. We start to see ourselves. And we have high self esteem.

So, for now, I'll continue to tell Seren that she is smart, talented, beautiful and well loved. I am a mother to a daughter. I pray that she can look in the mirror at age 12 (or 22 or 30!)and answer the three questions the way she answers them now, at nearly 18 months.

"Seren, are you very smart?"
"And are you very beautiful?"
"And Seren are you well loved?"

May she always feel that way about herself.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Zero to 60 in seconds flat

It never ceases to amaze me how Seren can go from sound asleep to bouncing in seconds flat.

I had to wake her up today to feed her some breakfast before I left for work. It is rare that I need to do this. When I opened the door to her dark room, she was nestled in. Her blanket was over her body, her arm around her beloved 'baa-baa' sheep. She was out cold. I gently said good morning; I touched her face, her arms, her curly hair. She turned her head towards me. Stretched out her curled up body and stood up.

And started to bounce.

And play her musical instrument.

There is no 'snooze' button for toddlers. There is no procrastination about starting the new work week. Seren needs no coffee. No shower to wake up and wipe the sleep from tired eyes. Seren is just asleep and then awake.

And ready to play, sing and discover!

If only all of us could roll over, stretch and start to happily bounce the second the alarm clock (or baby) woke us up. A good visual, yes?

Seize the day!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Self serve

I have written previously about Seren being the great liberator of things in the fridge. She just LOVES the drawers- especially the drawer that is always full of fruit. One night last week, I was making dinner (Sam was running another errand) and Seren picked out an apple. Usually, she hates apple when we try to feed it to her. Turns out, we had it all wrong. It isn't the apple she hates, but the fact that we cut it!

Before I knew it, she had taken a big bite. And another big bite. The skin was a bit troublesome but she solved that problem by spitting it out on her shirt. What a happy, apple eating munchkin.

Gotta love self serve restaurants!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A word or two from Dad

My husband is an excellent writer. It is his greatest passion. He has an amazing ability to put complex ideas into words that make it easy for others to understand. On his way to his dream of being a full time employed writer, he has started to blog.

Many times he writes about politics, Islam, and ethics. He writes to provoke thought, to push the issue, to get people to THINK. His 'thesis statement' is that life has to be understood in context. I agree with his thesis. I don't always agree with his sentiments and am often challenged by his academic, conflict ridden arguments. He is, after all, a former lawyer and an academic! That being said, I love to read his blog. Because they are so well written. (And because he is my best friend and husband!)

Recently, his adventures in fatherhood have made an appearance on a more regular basis. I am bias, of course, but his stories of Seren and his experience of being a dad make me laugh out loud. I just had to share his post from yesterday:

And this post about his experience in music class. Both reveal a lot about the person I married!

So, today's post will be brought to you by Sam. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Why we are just a wee-bit tired

Last Monday I posted that the previous weekend was a perfect balance of chores, friends and family. I cannot say the same of this past weekend!

Since Friday October 19th at 5:00 we….
· Scrapped wallpaper from the stairway
· Painted the hallway
· Painted the hallway a second time
· Hung up art in the hallway
· Took off the closet doors
· Sanded the closet doors
· Painted the closet doors
· Cleaned the old hinges by soaking them in something that took a year off my life
· Put the hinges back on
· Returned shoes to Marshalls
· Bought an area rug (and other assorted items) at Lowes
· Bought cleaning supplies
· Bought and returned a total of 6 knobs and went with a latch instead
· Did three loads of laundry
· Swept the front porch
· Bought and wrapped presents for a birthday party (Seren made the card)
· Raked the yard (Seren loved helping with this one)
· Mowed the front yard
· Moved stuff from the garage into the shed
· Puttied the front room
· Sanded the front room
· Painted the wall of the front room
· Placed corner blocks in the corners of the front room
· Painted the floor of the front room- times 3 for separate layers
· Played at the park for an hour
· Dusted off the futon frame
· Reassembled futon- complete with new futon mattress
· Laid out the new rug
· Moved the furniture back into the room
· Went to a birthday party for a two year old
· Swept out the laundry room
· Changed the sheets on the bed from the summer sheets to the winter sheets (only to learn that today it will go up to 82 degrees...)

We are tired. Thank goodness for Grammy and Poppy! They helped out on Saturday! This is QUITE the boring post but I'll show before and after pics of our 'new' room as soon as we can download them. Yahoo! It was work but it was worth it!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Missing the Snuggles

I miss snuggles! Seren is SO busy these days with all of her tasks, adventures and stories that it is rare that she and I just sit and well, snuggle. Those days seem like a long time ago. When she was 9 months, I still nursed her to sleep. Those days ended but I still put her down (mostly asleep) in her crib every night. I'd rock and sing and off she'd go to DreamLand. Then, at 15 months, we started to just calm her down and put her to bed. She is a big girl now.

But where are the snuggles? The rock-my-baby to sleep phase is gone. I guess that's because the 'baby' phase is gone.

The sleepy phase and physical comfort of mom/dad has been replaced by quick kisses (on the mouth) and what I call "fly by" hugs. She runs and jumps into our arms. And then that moment is done. And she is off! For the most part, I've learned to take what I can get of the displays of affection. I love the tackle hugs and tickles she gives us. Afterall , she is still really young and we love being affectionate! I also know I better enjoy it because these days are numbered too....(by age 13, I doubt I'll be getting cuddles?) So, I enjoy it.

But I do miss the snuggles. A lot.

However, regardless of how old Seren gets and how much she loves to hugs us or not...I can still go in every night and look lovingly at my sleeping miracle.

This way, in the quiet of the still night, I'll get my fill of snuggles.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

She is way ahead of me

The things my daughter is teaching me...

Last month, on a whim, I splurged and bought this:

It cost me $19.00. It smells great, and delivers! It has given me the "volumne" that my limp locks desperately seek. It was well worth it.

Turns out I should have bought this:

It only cost $2.99. And, apparently, if Seren's hair is any evidence, it has just the same effect! LOTS of volume!

Seren is way ahead of me already.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

One year!

Today is a milestone for me on a professional front: I have been at my current job for one year! A year ago today I nervously made the commute from PA to NJ. I had a bad cold and was anticipating a long but exciting day! With my breast pump packed, I made my way inside the building. Our decision for me to work full time was a challenging one and one that hasn't been without a fair amount of angst on my part. I interviewed when I was pregnant. I borrowed a nondescript grey suit from a family friend (I looked like a blob) and did my best. I remember flying home with my belly and saying, "Well little girl, if they offer it to me, I'll take it." And so we negotiated a start date of October, thinking that Seren would arrive in June.

When Seren started to arrive two months early, we realized our plans would change a bit. I needed to birth a child, learn to feed her, pack our apartment, move and then complete my MA. We did it so by the time October actually began, I felt quite accomplished!

People's response to our working/stay at home parent situation is always revealing to me. I have several colleagues who say, "Your husband stays home? Well, that is a win-win situation." I have met other folks who say, "I could never do that! No way! I'd be too jealous of my husband." Truth be told, I'm somewhere in the middle. It is a challenge but a good challenge. I get to do work that is important to me. I enjoy my colleagues. But I also miss being home more. I think this is normal and natural.

So, thinking about a year ago today made me cry a bit this morning. On one hand, I'm proud of our family. We have a non traditional set up that we have made work. Sam is an excellent father who has enjoyed being home with her immensely. The bond between them is amazing to watch! It is hard to visualize our lives being any other way. And I am a good colleague and a good mom. (Despite my constant internal thoughts that speak to the contrary!) On the other hand, I have missed first steps (but caught steps 3-4 later that afternoon) and hate saying goodbye to that sweet face every morning. I live with a lot of guilt.

The truth is that there is no 'perfect' situation. We all choose how we respond to certain situations. And in that response, we learn a great deal about what is really important to us. As my father always says when I worry that I have not done something well. "Did you do your best? That is all you can do."

Sam, Seren and I are doing our best on a daily basis.

Today I celebrate my one year of being a working mom(in the traditional, outside the home sense). However, I also recognize today that while I'm not home during the day, being a parent is a full time position- a position held in our family by two, dedicated, full time employees.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why weekends are great

I love weekends. Who doesn't right? Being with Seren and Sam all weekend fills my heart right back up. During the week, Sam and I are often overwhelmed by work demands, a house that needs an incredible amount of work and the challenges that come with raising a very funny but not yet communicative (and therefore frustrated) little one. But this weekend had just the right balance of everything: friends, family and chores.

Sam and I purchased a 1952 Levittown home. It has become QUITE the source of activity. When we aren't spackling, we are painting. When we aren't painting, we are staining. The term "we" is loosely used. Since Sam is home all week with Seren, I really want to PLAY with her on the weekends. So Sam has had the bulk of the work on his shoulders. But I do my share during nap as well.

Anyway, this weekend we did some of that but we also played as a family! So that was fun! Saturday we went out to breakfast with friends and Seren did her fair share to entertain the entire diner by throwing toys and graham crackers. We then went home to my parents home to 'help' them move all of the furniture our of thier first floor so that they could get the floors re-done. But really, it was an excuse to enjoy the small town, eat well and giggle with my parents. I am continually amazed how much joy children bring to situations. Of course they have melt downs and get tired but I love how Seren is much more of a social butterfly now. Waving to passing cars, greeting strangers. Seren, Grammy and I took a little 'train' through the small town. Mom and I wondered if the little train would make it around the block. Seren smiled and waved to strangers. We had a grand time.

While we were there, we took one of our 'strolls' which consists of Seren slowly walking through neighborhood picking up seeds, stones, twigs. When we got home, Seren put the seeds to her mouth. I instructed, "No, Seren, that is food for the birds." She turns around, gets that look like she is computing the information, and feeds the plastic bird on one of her toys.

How do they put stuff like that together? I love it.

As my aunt put it, kids these age are like little robots. "Must compute information." They just store it all in. Seren found a cap that goes on a specific lotion bottle she has. The cap was in her bedroom, not in the bathroom. She picks it up, grunts, and walks off to the bathroom. She opened up the cabinet, put it back on the lotion and returned to the bedroom.

Sunday we did chores and got together with friends from work. One couple had a 2 year old and a 4 year old. Between the three of them, they were very 'busy'! This whole new phase of our lives- meeting parents, studying others' parenting styles and finding 'friends' with little ones is still new. I hardly know the parents but there I was playing with Jill and 'marching' around the kitchen playing my 'saxophone' which was a spoon! Seren LOVES big kids. They always wear her out but she loves 'talking' with them and watching how they do things.

Another friend at the party was pregnant. She watched the three of them with wide eyes. She kept saying, "I don't think I'm ready." Of course not. But they don't come out doing all of these things! That's the beauty of parenting- you warm up to it. You get to grow into being a parent.

I just really am enjoying this phase of Seren. I like to think I have and will enjoy all of the phases of growing up but this age is just really fun and cute. And her Daddy still makes my heart melt.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Trash talk

I'm not talking about what NBA players do on the court. I'm referring to the new word in our house. "Trash" Seren loves to talk about 'trash'. When we go on walks around our block, Seren points out all of the trash. Last week, we were strolling, just the two of us. We found a gum wrapper on the sidewalk. She looked at me, and yelled at it. "Trash!" I affirmed that. "Yup, Seren. It is trash." Thinking we'd move on, god knows how many pieces of trash we'd find, I encouraged her to keep walking. But nope, "trash!" was on the ground. (She says it with a lot of enthusiasm and emphasis on the 's'. As in "trassssh".)

Ok, ok. I'll pick up the trash. But that wasn't good enough. She had to HOLD the silver gum wrapper until we got home. All the while, she kept saying, "trash, trash, trash". This obsession hasn't quite let up. Dirty diapers? "Trash". Used Kleenex? Trash. She likes to watch us open up the trashcans and often helps us place the trash in its appropriate receptacle.

I'm so proud, my environmentalist!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Car trips

As any parent will tell you "traveling" has a whole new mean when you travel with little ones. This weekend we drove four hours to see my best friend and her family for her babies' first birthday. We were excited to see them. They make it easy when we are there- we share baby stuff and baby food. They are such good hosts and they set up a pack and play for Seren, etc. So it is a piece of cake when you get there.

It is just the getting there.

Seren has outgrown sleeping in the car.

We had her in the infant seat and rearfacing until she was 15 months at which point she really outgrew the seat. It used to be that she'd zonk out as soon as she got in her seat. But that is not true anymore.

In the eight hours of driving, four on Saturday and four on Sunday, Seren slept for 58 minutes total despite the fact that we were driving DURING nap time on Sunday. 23 minutes going up and 35 min on Sunday.

The rest of the time, I was the human muppet.

Most people who know me know that I am a muppet most of the time anyway. But as a parent, my tendency to sing and dance and act goofy is taken to a whole new level. The challenge is keeping it up. For about half of the trips, I pretended to be the voice of a koala bear puppet. Seren looked to just sit and chat with Koala. Which is fine and good. Except that Mom was getting just *slightly* tired of using my voice at such a high octave.

The other half of the trip, I was "Mom, the toy distributor". I had a big bag of specially selected toys. The more 'unusual' to Seren, the better. With each toy that emerged, I hoped to 'buy' five-ten minutes of entertainment. I got nervous when I looked down and saw that the bag was nearly empty. The last toy.

The ironic thing was that after all of this entertaining which included puppet voices, and singing, she slept like a rock during Monday. So much so that Sam had to rock her awake during an impromptu nap. She fell asleep in the car (maybe because I wasn't with her singing and dancing?), he carried her out of the car, up a flight of stairs, laid her on the floor, cleaned her room, got the camera, took a picture, and moved her legs and she was still asleep. After lunch, she proceeded to sleep another 3 hours.

Wonders never cease.

Anyone else's kids not sleep in the car anymore?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Seren turns 17 months

Seren turned 17 months yesterday. On the fourth of each month, when I go into her room in the morning, I sing her happy birthday. I just can't get over where the time goes! Our babies are quickly becoming children. I swear, as soon as they can walk and wear shoes, I feel like kindergarten is right around the corner!

Seren hasn't really been doing too much talking. Well, talking in English. The child gives us oral dissertations on a daily basis. We just don't understand it yet. This worries me. But she does say a few words and many sounds of animals so I know it is coming. Some words are just odd to know. For example, trash, squash, backpack, and toast. I love when Seren learns a new word. Still, as a mom of a preemie, I still have that 'what if' in the back of my mind. Perhaps ALL parents have that feeling. I am always waiting for something to be wrong. Sam thinks I'm insane. We are very blessed but I think it is impossible not to worry about your children. It starts the second you find out that you are pregnant! My mom assures me it keeps up for the rest of the child's life.

Our camera is back! So we have lots of old photos from September to share. Here are three from our trip to the zoo. Seren's favorite animal? The prairie dog. The prairie dog!? Well, for one, it was actually close so she could see it. And it moved! When she learned the name of the animal, she started to 'woof'.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

One unique way to waste $10.00

This week I have been troubled by horrible ear pain. Ear pain? Who gets ear pain? I have a pretty high tolerance for pain but I found myself not able to sleep on one side of my head. I was feeling dizzy. And my ear was swollen and red. I described my symptoms to my colleague who instantly diagnosed me: ear infection. Great. An ear infection. So I call my doctor for an appointment. The earliest they could see me was Tuesday at 5 pm.

All day long I worried about my hot, red, aching, painful ear! At 3 yesterday, the pressure was unbelievable! Then, I felt a burst of pressure. Blood and pus were in my ear. What the hell!? I instantly start to google 'burst eardrum'. I read all about infections and fluids and blood and pus.

By 5 pm, I couldn't wait to get some good strong meds and start feeling better. I describe this all to the patient, young physcian's assistant. She thinks I have, in fact, burst my eardrum. She looks inside the good ear. Mumbles a bit. Then looks inside the 'bad' ear. For a long time.

Her assessment?

A zit.

A zit!? No way! I haven't been able to hear for two days!? I couldn't sleep on that side on my head! Could you check again? I'm 30! I still get acne (thanks dad) but a pimple INSIDE my ear canal??

Apparently all of that pressure can lead to the same feelings as an ear infection. She DID say, (perhaps to make me feel less foolish) "It looks pretty big and painful."

So to recap, I left work early, wasted a lot of nervous energy and generally freaked myself out. And for what?

A ten dollar zit.

Monday, October 1, 2007

September pics

Our camera is STILL MIA but we got some great pics from our father in law, Bill. These were taken two weeks ago when Seren had a major head cold. Still, I couldn't resist putting them up. Some pics of her swinging, resting and being a complete ham after bath one night.

More soon...